Visible from all directions, the spire of 101 Collins Street has been a Melbourne city landmark since 1991. Arup were tasked with designing and creating architectural lighting to illuminate the night sky with a choreographed display made from 700m of linear LEDs moving in a sequence of rich hues and intensities.

A 60-storey light show

Swirls of colour inspired by the building’s internal finishes gently envelop the spire’s platforms and the perimeter of the upper building, reaching down to touch the buttresses.

As creative and technical leads for the lighting installation, Arup executed the design from conceptual thinking through construction to commissioning. Our lighting team collaborated with our façade, structural and electrical engineers to design bespoke bracketry and electrical systems to create the framework for a visually stunning lightshow.

101 Collins Street
Watch the spire of 101 Collins Street lighting up the Melbourne cityscape.

Creating custom content for a spectacular display

Our team was further commissioned to design custom content to display on the building and use the system to its full capability. Through stakeholder workshops, our team helped the client portray local stories, the history of the iconic building and its position on the city skyline. The system is flexible, with custom scenes able to be called up to celebrate annual calendar events, with nightly shows and animated content created to engage with the city and its community.

The overall lighting design takes inspiration from the soaring interior of the 101 Collins Street lobby and its sophisticated metallic palette, as well as from the diversity of Melbourne itself – a colourful, frenetic urban hive, visually represented at night through dramatic hues of light.

Adding light to the night

Invisible during the day, the permanent light fixtures leave the building’s familiar silhouette and architecture visually intact. Under the cloak of darkness, however, the façade comes alive with a 3D canvas of evolving art. Starting with an initial sunset scene, this morphs into a 7pm community show and a 10pm romantic show. A series of scenes designed around common themes follow every hour before the evening’s showcase winds down with a moonset refrain.

All content is custom designed by Arup, working alongside the client and stakeholders to understand how feature lighting helps the client engage with the city after dark

Orchestrating manoeuvres in the dark

An undercover process of testing and developing the light show content, carried out in one-minute bursts, took place during ‘4am reconnaissance missions’ which included the Arup team, our client and their collaborators. These were scheduled over a two-month period to minimise the chances of the public seeing it before the opening event. Many physical tests on the spire structure were completed before this to ensure the lighting effects would be achieved as intended.

The overall result is an inspiring piece of city art that stands tall across Melbourne’s night sky, reinforcing the standing of 101 Collins Street as an iconic and modern building in the heart of the city.